…Tony sleeps well, and makes it down to hotel breakfast…he has to meet his new employer…but there’s tourist information to visit…and a familiar voice…a satirical story about Tony Blair in his new job….CEO of a top Scottish construction company…he thinks…Tony Blair in the wilderness…
Next morning, I was trying to swallow something like hot milk and sawdust. Porridge. All the people in the Machiavellian ate it for breakfast, but I had my own secret source of power—static electricity. How well it built up in me, naturally, although I noticed it stopped when I took off my new Nikes.
I opened a door opposite reception. There was a pungent new carpet smell. There were posters of lochs, mountains, valleys, waves, and blue skies. It had to be the tourist information suite.
“Our paths were meant to cross, with the blessing of the Lord, and all the significance of the mighty cross itself. How can I help you, sir?”
I shivered. The woman from the train was in front of me again, staring at me from behind a long counter. I unfolded the letter.
“Yes, quite. Hello again. I was er…sent a letter telling me to come to the Machiavellian, and I was wondering whether the people were, like, here to meet me yet? Mr. Ferguson is supposed to meet me?”
“It’s a great honour to have you here, sir, a great honour. The people are waiting.”
“Well I was told to come to the Machiavellian by the Civil Aviation Agency, and the hotel manager said I should come here.”
The woman smiled and placed a pile of glossy leaflets on the counter. I was distracted by snow-capped mountains and blue skies.
“Wow. Those are fine looking mountains. Looks like I can experience some real good flying time up here.”
“I hope so too, sir, but I’m sorry to say God’s mountains have suffered from the boots of a million walkers, and we’ve had to close them, as of yesterday.”
“May I remind you of my status. I am assured of a very satisfactory position in Scotland. I am a very influential figure. Is there anything I can do?”
“Not unless you’ve a direct line to the Almighty.”
“Maggie is my mobile.”
“Well, in that case, of course, sir, and you’re very welcome. Let me see, sir. Would you like tea or coffee, sir? I’m sure we can arrange to have the mountains opened again for an esteemed visitor such as yourself. Would you like to take the weight off your feet in our corporate hospitality zone?”
She pointed to a plastic chair and a coffee machine with the concentrated remains of coffee on top.
“I’d rather stand thank you all the same.”
“Suit yourself, sir.”
She produced a leaflet.
“Here’s our Grain and Grouse politician’s break, sir. You drink as much whisky as you can, and then you’re on the mountains shooting the noble bird, sir.”
“That sounds fine.”
“That’s two thousand pounds, sir. Hire car, sir? Bank details, sir?”
“I don’t have a Scottish bank account.”
“Which company do you represent, sir?”
“I represent myself.”
“Head office address, sir? We just need a company name for our records. Vectoil? Amocol? Strategem? Unibol? Carse?”
“I have nothing to do with the oil business.”
The hotel manager appeared alongside her, and clicked his neck with a sharp sideways twist of his head.
“We’re very pleased to have you here, sir. Is there anything else we can do for you, sir? Open the lochs so you can walk on water perhaps?”
“Speed boat hire?” said the woman.
“No. That won’t be necessary thank you, but I appreciate the offer. Walking on water is something I try to cut down on, keep my feet dry.”
“Do you think I could take some details please, sir?”
“Well, the letter assured me of a suitable position with the highly-rated NASDAQ company William McCreedie Plc.”
The woman looked surprised.
“McCreedie? William McCreedie of Aberdeen?”
I was pleased to be receiving some recognition at last, but the woman was looking at the ceiling with her hands clasped.
“May the Lord God be with him.”
“May the Lord protect him for what he’s about to endure.”
“Endure? I endured years of hostility with Maggie by my side. You don’t think a little hostility ever killed a fella? I’m not afraid of anything.”
“No, no, of course not. Now would you care to sign here, sir.”
I was naturally reluctant to sign anything, but mention of God gave me an idea, and I dragged the paperwork over. I signed it Donald Ferguson because that was the name on the letter, and that would save me a bob or two.
Tony Blair: The Wilderness Years ISBN 1-4196-0573-9
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